Lisa McDonald Blalock coached women’s basketball at Ball State for 9 years. After the 2009-10 season she felt led to leave coaching and move closer to family in Flagstaff, AZ. Prior to moving she met a guy at church, and although she initially resisted the idea of a long-term relationship, they are now married! Lisa moved back to Muncie, where she resides with her husband Joe and stepchildren, Charlie and Julia. She coaches high school basketball, and is involved in both her church and community.
Q: What have been the biggest “ah-ha’s” for you now that you’re on the outside of college coaching looking in?
A: No coach wants to hear this, but what became so apparent to me was how I made EVERY game, EVERY recruit, EVERY element of coaching SO ultimate, when in fact there are so many more important things in life. As coaches we all say that there are more important things than the game or our careers, but often we don’t really believe it or live it.
My entire worth and identity as a person was wrapped up in the score of our last game, which recruits we got and the quality of my scouting reports. The newspapers, websites and blogs became my truth and overshadowed the REAL TRUTH, which I believe to be my faith in Jesus Christ.
Q: In light of what you’ve learned these last few years, what would you do differently if you ever went back to college coaching?
A: Spend less time worrying, keep the “importance” of the game and the job in perspective, spend more time away from work and think through how to make college basketball a positive experience for each of my players.
Q: What advice do you most want to give young coaches just starting out?
A: Don’t let your job define who you are! Find time for other interests and especially for other people and DO NOT feel guilty about spending time doing non-work related things.
Along those same lines…put it all in persepctive. It really helps me to think about basketball in the backdrop of the entire world or in the light of eternity. For instance, I’ve made some dumb decisions in coaching and would endlessly beat myself up about them. But when I compare what seems like a tragedy in the moment to the fact that there are millions of people in many countries around the world who haven’t eaten today, or who are stuck in slavery, I realize I have so much to be thankful for and there’s no use worrying about basketball.
Know who you’re following. As an assistant you’ll learn from others and shape your coaching philosophy. I was fortunate to work for an outstanding boss in Kelly Packard. She led our program down roads of character, hard work and integrity. Because she spends significant time in prayer and contemplation, she has an unbelievable ability to see past the immediate and look deep down into how each of her words, actions and re-actions will affect those around her.
Unfortunately there are a lot people in coaching and leadership positions that don’t have a good perspective on life balance or even why they coach. Be careful who you follow and how you shape your coaching style and philosophy. Be yourself and be true to your beliefs and convictions.
Ask yourself these questions from the book, InsideOut Coaching:
1. Why do I coach?
2. Why do I coach the way I do?
3. How does it feel to be coached by me?